Pay It Back Or Pay It Forward?

Lindsay is 22. She's a young girl I was talking to about her recent breakdown. She's not the only one, there are tons. I guess some might assume you need to be at least double that age to have a breakdown as young people are deemed 'resilient' and they 'bounce back easily'.

Breaking down in the way of having your nervous system collapse is what I am seeing with her. It's not just a crying session or angry fit, she has lost control. Some of you understand what it means to break down completely while others may have some areas of your life that are just very difficult. Like in the 'Bleeding Hearts' blog, many people noted how one person's pain is not higher than another's, but I think there are various levels of instability that can come from pain. Let's not forget mental illness playing a factor or past skeletons, those are their own topic.

I will tell you why I took a special interest in Lindsay. It's not because I don't believe everyone has potential, quite the opposite, I know everyone can reach their potential and push it farther and beyond. But Lindsay reminds me of myself and so I like to think I perhaps relate to her easily in a mirror kind of way.

She has the whole world in front of her. She's a smart girl who has many, many talents. The problem in her world is that by either poor luck or bad timing she has managed to align herself with the most abusive, condescending, ego-deflating individuals who are holding her head below water. She is angry beyond words and quite rightfully so. The levels of cruelty are unspeakable. I understand Lindsay because every word she says I feel like she stole from my own mouth.
There two things that are currently happening as a pattern post her abuse. She is either saturated by vengeance or unknowingly treats others the same way. She makes statements where she is consumed by "payback is a bitch" or says things like, "Nobody will EVER walk on me again". PAY IT BACK or PAY IT FORWARD.

I was considering these two terms in looking at her world because while she's doing all this "paying" she's not receiving anything. If you were to ask her why she reacts this way, her answer is much like mine has been, "It doesn't matter if it feels good, they can see what it feels like" or for the cases of new people she comes across, "Ya, well the world sucks, they better learn now".

If I felt like revenge was a good fix, I'd be doing lots of it! I don't think it is fair to mistake yelling at someone for feeling good. When a person feels good, they hang out, party, sing crazy songs together or relax with a good book. Anger doesn't feel good, it's just a release. You have it pent up, it has to come out. It's much like air from a balloon. The air inside gains momentum after tasting the air outside and soars through the air squealing until it's gone. Then guess what? It's the saddest looking site when you look down on the ground (or the flowerbed it's landed in) and it's withered up and dead. As far as her teaching new people a lesson, I've tried this approach also. Self-appointed teachers...this the world does not need. This I feel, is also an element of control.

So why do we feel the need to negatively pay back or pay it forward? Is this not like giving someone your attention when they clearly don't deserve it? Paying back someone you owe money to feels really good. You feel like you made good on your debt. Often people who dismiss the debt which you own them will say, "Oh your debt to me is forgiven...you should go pay it forward to someone else". This is healthy and it feels fine.

The hard part is convincing Lindsay about this negative payment being unhealthy. Confronting someone for resolution or to get something off your chest has its place. But, plotting your course of retribution keeps a vicious cycle going. 'Settling the score' feels really mafia to me. Now, there have been times in my life where I couldn't get help from the law to take care of business and my instinct was to be the justice-seeker and it's still what I consider both my best and worst character flaw. I am big on defense of a third party! It pains me to listen to Lindsay talk. I simply am not the vengeful type anymore (although it creeps up from time to time).
Lindsay and I have been talking a lot and I am trying to get her more focused on the positive things in her world. My concern is that her mental health is so reckless that she is simply missing out on her amazing life that is in front of. Time is ticking!

When you personally look at your PAY IT BACK or PAY IT FORWARD equation, what percentage of time are the figures representing? Are you engulfed by retaliation and a hardened wall around your heart? Or are you in a place where you can move ahead and PAY IT FORWARD the way the phrase was intended? And what are you paying back and what are you paying people forward?

I'm not completely on the positive side in my own life, I see challenges every day where I am trying to watch which account my emotions are being thrown into. Hopefully, by adding your responses here, people like Lindsay can begin to get a grip on what to pay back and what to pay forward. I am trying to differentiate the two in everything I do.

Think I will just serve the ice cream cold instead,

"Revenge is often like biting a dog because the dog bit you."~Austin O'Malley

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